At its 2019 Integrator Summit, held at the end of January, Savant laid out a product roadmap that promised to continue the company's position as an innovative force in the industry. Here, Savant VP Craig Spinner answers a few questions about the company’s views on the future of custom integration.
What areas do you see as being the most important for integrators to focus on in the near future?
CRAIG SPINNER: At Savant, we certainly acknowledge that audio/video is a focal point for many smart home consumers, and, to that end, we have developed solutions such as our PoE (Power over Ethernet) speaker line that sounds and looks amazing while minimizing the required wiring infrastructure to enhance overall job efficiency. And speaking of IP audio, Savant delivers best performance from source to speaker — from Savant Music to the scalable distributed audio products that utilize AVB connectivity introduced by Savant over three years ago and now our new PoE speakers — Savant is committed to providing integrators with the finest whole-house entertainment solutions for every project.
But the ceiling is home to more than speakers! If you walk through any luxury residence and start counting light fixtures in or hanging from the ceiling, you’ll come up with an impressive number…technology integrators could be leaving significant opportunity on the table by not offering a premium lighting solution to their clients. Savant has been co-developing smart lighting solutions as part of a CEDIA channel exclusive relationship with USAI Lighting, and these premium fixtures beautifully match our architectural PoE speaker grilles for a seamlessly integrated ceiling. Our lighting solutions give homeowners access to Savant’s award-winning TrueImage user experience as well as a space oriented toward a healthy lifestyle thanks to human-centric color tuning capability found in the Savant Pro App.
As for IP video, there has been some debate about 1-Gig verses 10-Gig platforms, however it is simply not possible to achieve uncompressed 4K content over 1-Gig, which is why Savant has brought to market an ultra-high-performance pixel-perfect 4K video over IP switching platform. This technology gives Savant integrators worldwide a competitive advantage, delivering premium distributed AV content to their residential and commercial clients. The new switching platform delivers 4K/60 4:4:4 HDR video distribution over IP with zero frame latency.
These technologies represent some of the critical opportunities for integrators to focus on in 2019 as they address the demands of discerning clients and seek to grow their businesses.
Why do you think these areas will be significant to customers?
Every modern smart home features a unique application of lighting and audio/video entertainment. Integrators need to stay in tune with evolving trends and be able offer their clients an array of products and services to suit each project. As an example, soundbars represent an ideal opportunity to attach advanced technology to the otherwise commonplace purchase of a flat panel TV. In 2019, Savant will be introducing IP soundbars that feature an embedded control processor (called a host) along with one stream of Savant Music, enabling integrators to deliver sophisticated streaming content from all of the popular providers, multi-room entertainment, and smart home functionality to an entirely new group of consumers — all based on technology inside the sound bar! Additionally, Savant’s IP soundbars feature IP, IR, and Serial control ports that enable easy connection to an array of entertainment devices. Savant’s objective is to provide integrators with the tools they need to make sophisticated control available to a broad range of potential clients, and a soundbar with embedded entertainment and control functionality is one example of a truly innovative control solution only offered by Savant.
Going Forward: Key Trends in the Smart Home
What is Savant doing to help integrators serve these customers?
Today, a control and automation platform must provide integrators with a state-of-the-art installation configuration and design toolset that maximizes efficiencies now and in the future. With Savant’s SCM (Savant Central Management), we have leveraged the power and security of the Savant Cloud to provide integrators with the ability to manage, monitor, push software updates, and provide system diagnostics for all of their clients in any geographical location without having to roll trucks. At the core of Savant Central Management is the capability to protect the integrator and their clients with permission-based secure access. We have also introduced a tablet-based configuration tool called Savant Studio, which brings the power of our Blueprint configuration environment to a tablet using an ultra-modern graphical presentation, increasing productivity by enabling junior techs to manage S2 host-based system configuration while freeing senior team members to address more complex assignments.
Combining the functionality of Studio with SCM, user preferences such as Savant Scenes, customized Savant Pro App photos, and other Studio configuration parameters can all be stored in the cloud for fast, easy access and effortless repeatability of popular system configurations. Savant is now more accessible than ever before to a broader range of smart home consumers through the introduction of our S2 host and Savant Studio. We believe that Studio is as significant an integration tool as Savant’s introduction of RacePoint Blueprint over a decade ago.
What are the benefits of an open system over a closed one, and what does Savant look for in a partner?
Savant has always been proud to support open standards/protocols such as WiFi, IP, Bluetooth, AVB (Audio/Video Bridging), DMX, and RDM (Remote Device Management), etc. As it pertains to third-party devices, an open platform can be both a blessing and a curse depending on selectivity and execution as we always seek to maintain the high standards that Savant has established since the inception of the company. It is not uncommon for consumers to amass a collection of connected devices in the home that simply do not work well together.
At Savant, our mission is to carefully choose which devices we integrate with so that our customers always have a premium smart home experience. We never farm out our supported third-party integrations — we create them in-house, we test them, and we maintain them. All of this is quite an involved process for our engineering team, however we feel that this level of commitment is the only way to give our customers the ultimate smart home experience. Therefore, Savant will remain committed to a selective open platform, bringing a diverse and ever-expanding array of smart home features to our customers.
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